03:00PM, Friday 01 October 2021
Maidenhead Hockey Club
Saturday's start to the South Central Hockey League Premier Division 1 season didn't go exactly to plan for Phil Cowell's Maidenhead men's 1st team as they were thrashed 6-1 by familiar foes in Staines 1sts at Altwood School.
Maids have been moved up into the division following a restructure of the leagues and the emphatic nature of Saturday's result suggests they'll have to find their feet quickly if they're to avoid a season of struggle.
There were elements of Saturday's performance that skipper Cowell wasn't too displeased with, most notably an improved second half display in which Cowell scored.
Overall, they were very much second best to a side they've matched up well against in previous campaigns.
Staines pressed well in the first half, netting twice before the break and while Maids offered more of an attacking threat after half-time, they were picked off by some clinical finishing on the counterattack.
Reflecting on a surprisingly difficult opening league game, Cowell said: “I don’t think the team would mind me saying we were poor in the first half.
“We didn’t get into the game, and we got bogged down at the back. They scored a well-deserved goal, and their second goal was a little unfortunate because it went through our keeper, but we went in 2-0 down at half-time and that was probably deserved to be honest.
“The frustrating thing is that second half we actually played a lot better and moved the ball around quite nicely and created some chances. We transitioned well from defence to attack and created a lot of chances, but because we were pushing through, we were stung on the counter attack, and they were quite clinical to be fair to them.
“They’ve got some high-quality forwards and took their chances really well. One of them was a penalty stroke, so yeah, we got a goal from a short corner, from me, but it was less than a consolation.”
Maids lacked structure throughout and Cowell believes they were missing the encouragement and tactical nous of coach Rohit Kapoor, who couldn't make Saturday's curtain raiser.
They'll now look to bounce back at Slough Men's 1sts on Saturday in what promises to be a 'feisty' clash.
Cowell said: “We didn’t actually have Rohit (Kapoor) coach, on the sidelines on Saturday which I think was a big factor.
“Our structure on the press was quite poor and we didn’t really have anyone to get a message on.
“It's not a great start but we showed glimpses of what we can do in the second half.
“They have a very good forward who scored two of their goals, but I feel that in the return fixture we’ll have a chance.
“The scoreline didn’t reflect the game. First half we were poor but second half we had most of the possession. A fair result but a bit of a harsh scoreline.”
He added: “We're now away to Slough at 12pm on Saturday. It's another massive game but we'll take some confidence into it.
“They lost 3-2 to Henley. It’s usually a feisty clash with Slough so looking forward to that one.”
Marlow Hockey Club
With a new league structure in place, and some unfamiliar teams to face this season, there was a degree of uncertainty and apprehension for Marlow's men's and women's teams ahead of this weekend's opening matches.
However, across the various levels of competition, the club made a strong start with the men's 1sts serving up an impressive 11-0 victory over Newbury & Thatcham in their opening South Central Hockey League Premier Division 2 clash. Newbury simply had no answer to Marlow's incisive passing in and around the D, while they were also held at arm’s length by the side's resolute defence. All of the goals came from open play, barring one from a penalty corner, and Callum White rocketed to the top of the league's scoring charts by scoring five of them.
The others were shared around between Matt Ashton, Mav Girn, Sam North, Leo Pennant, Chris Sewell and Charley Hunter.
The men's 2nd team were also convincing 4-1 winners away to Reading 3rds, with James Ashburner, Dan Field, Will Pendered and Johnny Mee all finding the net.
Both results bode well for the remainder of the season.
There was an early start for Marlow Ladies 1sts team, but they certainly caught the worm so to speak, beating local rivals Maidenhead 4-0 with goals from Jenny Martin, Hanna Dring and Kiera Foster (two).
Inspired by this, Marlow's second team followed them onto the pitch and promptly beat Maidenhead's 2nd team 3-0 in another one-sided display.
Elsewhere the men's 3rd team drew 0-0 with Leighton Buzzard 2nds, but the 4ths lost 2-1at home to Yateley. The 5ths were 8-1 winners away at Tring 1sts and the 6th team beat Sonning 5ths 4-2 away. The 7th team were also convincing 7-0 winners over Sonning 6ths.
The Ladies 3rds were held to a 2-2 draw at home by Oxford 3rds but the 4ths were impressive 4-1 victors over Oxford 4ths.
The 5ths beat Yateley 2nd 3-1 at home, and the 6ths were 5-0 winners at Maidenhead 5ths. The Ladies 7th team also beat Slough 4ths 3-1, giving the club an opening day tally of 11 wins and two draws from 14 games.
Stoke Green Hockey Club
Stoke Green Hockey Club tasted victory in their first ever game with a 3-2 win over Amersham and Chalfont 6ths writes Ben Hart.
The team, an offshoot of the Cricket Club of the same name, hopes to promote hockey in the Wexham area while providing young people with a route into sport. Coached by former Slough captain Kulhit Bhachu, Stoke Green secured a thrilling victory in their first Southcentral (MT3) fixture.
It was a dream start for the hosts who raced into a 3-0 lead at half-time. Veer Patel opened the scoring to round off an excellent counter attack.
Amandeep Singh swept home the second and then scored a fantastic solo effort as he waltzed past two defenders before smashing past the Amersham keeper. Amersham rallied in the second half, in need of a miraculous comeback. Short corners proved to be the scourge of the home side as both Amersham goals came from the set piece.
However, a defiant Stoke Green side held out despite chances for both teams in the final stages.
Sardar Dhoot was awarded Man of the Match for his excellent midfield display. Stoke Green travel to Eastcote 6 next hoping to build on their opening day success.
Slough Hockey Club
Slough Hockey Club celebrated its centenary on Sunday with a day of celebratory games, food, drink, and entertainment, writes Ali Lubbock.
The event followed the women's 1sts' opening game of the season on Saturday, a convincing 2-0 victory over ISCA in the Vitality Women's Hockey League Division 1 South. Surbiton and Sevenoaks lead the way after the first round of matches following solid 4-0 away wins over Canterbury and Wimbledon 2nds respectively.
The men's first team got their campaign underway with a 3-2 defeat against Henley and host Maidenhead this coming Saturday.
A centenary of competitive hockey is worth celebrating and is a notable achievement in the sport, with the club having played in the top echelons for the past 50 years.
Slough has an extensive list of honours both at a national and European level and have always been one of the country's dominant forces in the indoor game, both on the men's and women's side.
The women won the first Typhoo sponsored National League season when it was introduced in 1990-91 and dominated the ladies' game for several years after.
The men also have a series of league titles under their belt, having first won the men's National Inter League Championship back in 1975-76. Between 1979-83 they were the strongest side in the country, but they were relegated from the topflight in 1994-95 and haven't managed to get back there since.
The club has also been a breeding ground for international talent with many players having represented the pink and blacks.
The men’s list of internationals includes Ian Taylor, Paul Barber, Balwant Saini and Suti Khehar, while the women's list features Karen Brown, Sue Knight, Mandy Pottow, Sue Chandler, Jo Thompson, Mandy Nicholson, Lesley Hobley, Jane Smith, Kate Richardson-Walsh, Alex Danson-Bennett, Fiona Greenham, Sarah Kelleher, Anna Bennett, Shona McCallin and Beth Storry to name a few. Some of those ex-players were reunited for the celebrations at Upton Court Park in Slough on Sunday, where a glass was raised in recognition of all that's been achieved and all that is to come.
There will be displays at Windsor Racecourse and Legoland, local fireworks in Burnham and Twyford and smaller displays at schools in the Royal Borough.